UPDATE, writethru: The 70th Berlin Film Festival, and the first under new leadership team Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian, drew to a close this evening with the Golden Bear awarded to Mohammad Rasoulof’s There Is No Evil. Rasoulof is currently banned from leaving Iran for participation in social and political activity. This is the second time in five years that Berlin’s top prize has gone to an Iranian filmmaker unable to travel outside their home country — the last time was in 2015 when Jafar Panahi scooped the honor for Taxi.
Along with Panahi and Asghar Farhadi, Rasoulof, whose credits also include Manuscripts Don’t Burn, is among the best-known Iranian filmmakers on the international stage. His last picture, A Man Of Integrity, won Cannes’ Un Certain Regard prize in 2017, but his passport was confiscated that same year. Yesterday, the director issued a statement of regret over his inability to attend There Is No Evil‘s premiere. “The right to choose between being present or absent at the festival is simply not mine,” he said. “Imposing such restrictions very clearly exposes the intolerant and despotic nature of the Iranian government.”
There Is No Evil is made up of four stories that offer variations on the themes of moral strength and the death penalty, asking to what extent individual freedom can be expressed under a despotic regime and its seemingly inescapable threats.
The director’s daughter, Baran Rasoulof, who also stars in There Is No Evil, accepted the Golden Bear on her father’s behalf, saying she was “Overwhelmed and happy, but sad for a filmmaker who couldn’t be here tonight. This is for him.” The cast and crew of the movie was given a standing ovation before producer Kaveh Farnam spoke, noting Rasoulof’s seat had been empty this week in Berlin, but “he is with us right now… There is no wall in the world that can stop our imagination.”
Other key Bears awarded tonight included the Grand Jury Prize which went to Sundance abortion drama Never Rarely Sometimes Always by Eliza Hittman. Early in the fest, jury president Jeremy Irons had addressed controversial statements he has been reported to have made in the past about women’s rights and abortion.
The Best Director trophy was given to Korean master Hong Sang-soo for The Woman Who Ran, and Oscar nominee Rithy Panh won the Documentary prize for Irradiated.
The festival kicked off on February 20 against a gloomy backdrop that included a terror attack in the German town of Hanau, fears about the coronavirus, the festival’s Alfred Bauer situation and local infrastructural challenges.
Then, ahead of the awards ceremony tonight, climate activists said they would occupy the red carpet. Though the fest noted it had reached an agreement for peaceful proceedings.
Among the best reviewed films to have screened in competition were Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always and Christian Petzold’s Undine which landed Paula Beer the Silver Bear for Best Actress as well as a FIPRESCI.
See below for the full list of winners:
BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL 2020 WINNERS
GOLDEN BEAR BEST FILM
There Is No Evil, dir: Mohammad Rasoulof
SILVER BEAR GRAND JURY PRIZE
Eliza Hittman, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
SILVER BEAR FOR BEST DIRECTOR
Hong Sang-soo, The Woman Who Ran
SILVER BEAR FOR BEST ACTRESS
Paula Beer, Undine
SILVER BEAR FOR BEST ACTOR
Elio Germano, Hidden Away
SILVER BEAR FOR BEST SCREENPLAY
Bad Tales, dirs: Damiano & Fabio D’Innocenzo
SILVER BEAR FOR OUTSTANDING ARTISTIC CONTRIBUTION
Jurgen Jurges for the cinematography in DAU. Natasha
SILVER BEAR SPECIAL PRIZE OF THE 70TH BERLINALE
Delete History, dirs: Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kerven
The Works And Days (Of Tayoko Shiojiri In The Shiotani Basin), dirs: CW Winter and Anders Edström
SPECIAL JURY AWARD
The Trouble With Being Born, dir: Sandra Wollner
Cristi Puiu, Malmkrog
Matías Piñeiro, Isabella (Special Mention)
BERLINALE DOCUMENTARY AWARD
Irradiated, dir: Rithy Panh
Notes From The Underworld, dirs: Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel (Special Mention)
GWFF BEST FIRST FEATURE AWARD
Los Conductos, dir: Camilo Restrepo
Naked Animals, dir: Melanie Waelde (Special Mention)
GOLDEN BEAR BEST SHORT FILM
T, dir: Keisha Rae Witherspoon
SILVER BEAR JURY PRIZE SHORT FILM
Filipiñana, dir: Rafael Manuel
SHORT FILM AWARD
Genius Loci, dir: Adrien Mérigeau
Prizes of the Ecumenical Jury
There Is No Evil, dir Mohammad Rasoulof (Competition)
Father, dir: Srdan Golubović (Panorama)
Zero, dir: Kazuhiro Soda (Forum)
Undine, dir: Christian Petzold (Competition)
The Metamorphosis Of Birds, dir: Catarina Vasconcelos (Encounters)
Mogul Mowgli, dir: Bassam Tariq (Panorama)
The Twentieth Century, dir: Matthew Rankin (Forum)